Many of us go crazy with shopping at Christmas time because we feel pressured. We want to find that “perfect” gift for our loved ones. Or we want to find at least one thing our loved ones will appreciate receiving. Or we just want to find anything for those people on our shopping list. These are the normal feelings we experience, along with relief when we’ve finished with our shopping tasks.
Some people can’t stop shopping. Compulsive shoppers get caught in a vicious cycle of anxiety. They experience endorphin-fuelled highs, euphoria, and excitement while shopping until they literally drop. When they’ve maxed out their credit cards and bought all they can possibly carry, they must stop shopping…for the moment.
Often these shopaholics buy things they don’t need or really want, including seriously over-buying gifts for others. Guilt quickly replaces the “high” they experienced while shopping. They find it difficult or impossible to face their spouse or significant other with what they have done and with all they have purchased. This guilt leads to secretive behavior. Those unnecessary purchases get hidden away in some manner.
Hidden away or not, these unnecessary purchases have already caused a problem in the compulsive shopper’s life. As the guilt weighs heavily on the person, it triggers the emotional problems forcing them to out and shop. Debt has been increased, often to serious financial instability. And trying to keep all of the shopping and hiding of purchases takes a big toll on relationships with others.
Why does someone compulsively shop? It isn’t known for certain what triggers the behavior, but there are various suspect causes. Some people experience a strong need to feel special and somehow shopping satisfies that, temporarily. Some people shop to combat loneliness, depression, or anger. Some people believe that shopping will somehow change them for the better. There is also a belief that the behavior can have roots in early experience such as an emotionally deprived child or teenager unconsciously replacing what they need with objects.
What are common results of compulsively shopping? This kind of shopper will start changing their shopping habits. Instead of shopping with others, they will shop in secret. Personal or family debt increases, and sometimes these shopaholics will have secret credit card accounts. And relationships with family members, friends, and at work become strained.
What are signs for family members or friends to watch out for in shopaholic behavior?
- Spending well beyond the budget
- Compulsive buying of more than one particular item, buying three or more of the item
- Heavily shopping at more than just Christmas time, and way too much at Christmas time
- Hiding purchases
- Having secret credit card accounts
- Emotionally and physically isolating themselves from others
Research shows that approximately 6% of the United States population suffers from shopping addiction. Of the compulsive shoppers, 80% are female, and the behavior usually begins in the late teen years/early 20’s.
Links for more on the subject:
How Can I Manage Compulsive Shopping –http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/shop.html
What Is Shopping Addiction? –http://addictions.about.com/od/lesserknownaddictions/a/shoppingadd.htm
Shopping Spree, or Addiction? –http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/shopping-spree-addiction